Arsenal have reportedly identified Atletico Madrid right-back Sime Vrsaljko as the ideal summer replacement for Hector Bellerin

According to a report in TransferMarketWeb, Arsenal have set their sights on Atletico Madrid right-back Sime Vrsaljko as the potential defender to replace Hector Bellerin in the summer transfer window.

Bellerin has been heavily linked with a summer move away from Arsenal, with Barcelona reported to be keen on bringing the Spaniard back to Camp Nou. The 22-year-old, too, is believed to have his heart set at a return to the Catalan club, and a summer exit from the Emirates is looming large.

Right-back has been a major problem area for Barcelona this season, with midfielder Sergi Roberto having to play as a makeshift full-back. Aleix Vidal has been largely unimpressive, and with reports suggesting that Roberto is likely to return to midfield next season, the Blaugrana are eager to land a top right-back in the summer.

Arsenal, though, are unwilling to let go of a player who continues to remain highly rated by Arsene Wenger despite a significant dip in his form this season. However, they may be rendered helpless if Bellerin insists on the departure in the summer transfer window.

Set for Arsenal move? (Photo courtesy - Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

Set for Arsenal move? (Photo courtesy – Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

As a result, it looks like the Arsenal have started laying the contingency plans to replace Bellerin in the summer, if he indeed ends up leaving the club in the summer. And as per the latest report, the Gunners have identified Atletico Madrid’s Sime Vrsaljko as a viable option.

Vrsaljko only moved to the Spanish capital last summer after impressing in two seasons with Sassuolo, where he was widely regarded as one of the most consistent full-backs in the Serie A. The move to Los Rojiblancos hasn’t been as fruitful as he would have hoped for as he has managed just 25 appearances in all competitions.

Injuries and Juanfran’s strong form have played a part, as Vrsaljko has had to share game time with the veteran Spaniard. The Croatian international, though, has still managed to make an impression with his marauding runs down the right flank, while also being solid in defence.

His stellar showings have not gone unnoticed, with Inter Milan one of the clubs that have held a long-term interest in him. Napoli have also been tracking Vrsaljko, but Arsenal seem to have clinched the lead in the race to sign him in the summer.

All of 25, Vrsaljko still has his best years ahead of him, and he can prove to be a long-term solution on the right side of defence for Arsenal. He would also be a significant upgrade on Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy, who have failed to make an impression on Arsene Wenger.

A potential summer move, though, hinges on Bellerin moving away from the Emirates, and it remains to be seen if the Spaniard indeed leaves the club at the end of the season to pave the way for Vrsaljko to join Arsenal.

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